Meeting new people and making friends

You can meet new people online, in your local area or through groups, events and activities.

Meeting people with shared interests

There are many groups where people meet to do things they enjoy. This might be theatre, music or hillwalking. There is a group for every interest.

Local shared interest groups

You can find out about these through:

  • local newspapers or newsletters
  • local noticeboards, such as at a village hall or community centre
  • flyers and posters in GP surgeries, pubs and local venues
  • social media pages for your local area
  • online noticeboards like Meetup

These are informal groups which might arrange events in your area, such as nature walks or outdoor film nights. They may also have a WhatsApp or Facebook group that you could join.

Gig Buddies

Gig Buddies enable people with learning disabilities and autistic people to enjoy community activities, especially live music.

Gig Buddies

Making friends online

There are lots of places to ‘meet’ people online. If you feel anxious about meeting new people, an online group can be an easier way to get to know them.

Searching for an online group can be daunting, as there are so many to choose from.

Stay safe online (Age UK)

Scope’s online community

Scope’s online community is a supportive space where disabled people, their friends and families can chat to people with similar experiences. Once you’ve registered, you can join any discussion or start your own group. Discussion groups cover all sorts of topics, from sex and relationships to socialising.

The virtual coffee lounge is an informal space where you can chat about hobbies, sports, movies, cooking or anything else that interests you.

Join our online community


Facebook groups can be:

  • public, where anyone can join
  • closed, where groups and members are visible to all, but posts are only visible for members
  • or private

Private groups based around a shared interest or experience are a good place to start. They can provide a space to get to know people. Private groups usually moderate who joins them. This means that you will have to ask to join the group. The person who ‘owns’ the group must approve your request. They may ask you a few questions, such as why you want to join the group.

Once you’ve joined the group, you can:

  • chat to other members
  • hear about events, campaigns or meetups
  • comment on posts that you are interested in

Find a group by searching for a particular interest or through a charity’s homepage. Facebook will suggest groups based on your interests and location.

Find a Facebook group

Social media

Social media platforms can be useful to:

  • keep up to date with activities that you are interested in
  • chat to people online before you meet in person
  • find and ‘follow’ people with shared interests

Arranging to meet people in person

Once you’ve met someone online, you might feel more comfortable about meeting up in person. It’s hard to know for sure that the person you’ve met online is being honest with you.

Follow these tips to stay safe when meeting people for the first time:

  • Meet up in a public place where there are lots of people around, such as a pub, café or park.
  • Take a friend with you. They could sit nearby and make sure you are safe.
  • Tell someone where you are going, who you are meeting and what time you expect to finish. Agree a time that you will call or text to say that you are OK.
  • Be careful about giving someone your phone number before you meet. You should be able to arrange everything online.
  • Remember that people can come across differently in person than online. You may not get on when you meet face to face but go with an open mind.

Friendship apps and websites

These apps are designed to help people find friends. They are different from dating and relationship apps. They can help you find people in your area with shared interests.

Meetup was set up to help people find local groups where they can make friends or try out something new. There are many groups for disabled people listed in the UK. You can enter a search term and a location and find out what’s happening near you.

Luv2MeetU is "a friendship and relationship service for adults with learning disabilities and/or autism". They arrange events for their members and support people to get involved in social activities. They can set up meetings between members with a chaperone.

Bumble For Friends looks similar to a dating app, where you can see profiles from people who are looking for friendships nearby and swipe to match with people you would like to be friends with. If you match with somebody, you can chat together through the app and make plans to meet up in person.

Meeting people through volunteering

You can meet people with shared values through volunteering. It can be a great way to spend time with people while completing a shared task.

Many local groups will need volunteers. These groups can cover a wide range of interests, such as:

  • animal welfare
  • performing arts
  • the environment
  • supporting people in need

You could help with things like:

  • organising trips and events
  • record keeping
  • delivering food and medicine

You can ask your local volunteer centre about opportunities near you.

I want to volunteer (NCVO)

Search for voluntary work (Do IT)

National organisations and venues

Many larger cultural venues or leisure organisations offer accessible events for disabled people, such as BSL (British Sign Language) signed tours of a museum. These events can be a good way to meet other people who have a shared interest.

Days out for disabled people and their families

To find out about these events, sign up for newsletters from:

  • cultural venues, such as theatres or cinemas
  • leisure organisations like Sustrans, the National Trust, English Heritage or your local Wildlife Trust
  • disability sports organisations and charities
  • charities that support disabled people. They often share details of events that could be of interest.

Meeting people through sport

There are sports and recreation activities at every level. If you enjoy sports, they can be a good way to meet people or become part of a team.

Some sports clubs are competitive, while others are more informal and focused on leisure, exercise or friendship.

Contact the organiser before you go to find out what kind of group it is. They may offer taster sessions so you can try things out without making a commitment.

Many groups or clubs will host meetups or nights out as well as training or competitions.

Find a club near you (Every Body Moves)

Sports clubs and venues (Level Playing Field)

Sports Buddies

Disability sports

Meeting people with shared experience of disability

If you prefer to meet people who understand what it’s like to be disabled, you could look for local disability organisations or groups that focus on your particular condition.

Local support groups

There are many local groups that support disabled people. They may be pan-disability or be more specific, such as a group for visually impaired people. They are often informal so you can turn up whenever you like.

Some groups may arrange accessible trips, for example, to the theatre, a museum or a concert. They may also arrange adjustments for the group, such as:

  • a signed museum tour
  • an audio described performance
  • autism-friendly film showing

These groups will usually have considered possible barriers to joining, such as timing or location of meetings. They will know that some people find it difficult to attend regularly.

You may also find you can arrange your own meetups with people from the group.

Find a local support group

Find your local group by searching online.

Your local authority’s website should have details of:

  • local disability groups
  • support groups and friendship clubs
  • advocacy and advice organisations

Find your local authority (GOV.UK)

Phab Clubs across England and Wales enable disabled children, young people and adults to get together with friends and family for all kinds of activities and social events.

Find a local Phab club

Meeting people through charities

Some larger charities run their own communities. You can meet people in a safe space, either online or at special events.

Mind has local mental health charities run by local people for local people.

Find Mind where you live

RNIB Connect is led by blind and partially sighted people. It brings together anyone affected by sight loss. They run Facebook groups and can help you find community events.

RNIB Connect (RNIB)

Hearing Link Services share hearing loss forums that people can join online. Some of these groups are for people in the UK, others are worldwide.

Hearing Loss Forums (Hearing Link Services)

The MS Society offers an online search for activities to connect people affected by multiple sclerosis.

MS Online Community (MS Society)

Macmillan’s online community is a safe space for people with cancer to share their experiences and connect with others.

Cancer Online Community (Macmillan)

The National Autistic Society’s online community is a place for autistic people and their families to meet like-minded people.

National Autistic Society Community (NAS)

Find autism support groups (NHS)

Day care centres

Day care centres provide activities for disabled people in a safe and supportive environment. They aim to help people feel less isolated and have more social opportunities.

If you are interested, contact your local authority to find out about day centres in your area.

Find your local day care centre (GOV.UK)


If you or someone you know is lonely and needs a befriender, try Befriending Networks.

Find a befriender (Befriending Networks)

If struggling with loneliness means you need support with your mental health, ask when you can.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important. Everyone manages their mental health differently.

There are many things you can try.

Managing your mental health

Last reviewed by Scope on: 29/09/2023

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